In summer 2020, an amazing team of undergraduate educators and natural history professionals collaborated to build CUREs that could be implemented entirely online for the upcoming academic year. The result is 4 highly adaptable CUREs that use freely available digitized natural history collections data, all summarized below. Each of the CUREs requires only internet access and computers, and make use of open source analysis tools and open access educational materials, including hundreds of documents created by BCEENET members. If you would like access to these materials now, please reach out to us at bceenetwork@gmail.com to be added to our community on Basecamp.

Pieris rapae
Pieris rapae, the cabbage white butterfly. Image by Rolf Dietrich
Brecher from Germany, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sexual dimorphism in melanized wing patterns of Pieridae butterflies

Students participating in this CURE will use digital images of Pieris rapae, the cabbage white butterfly, to investigate differences in the level of variation between sexually and non-sexually dimorphic melanized wing patterns. While sexual selection has been shown to play an important role in the evolution of wing patterns in butterflies, melanization is also used for thermoregulation, and can be seasonally plastic in Pieridae butterflies. Using open source image analysis software to measure melanization patterns in male and female butterflies, wing variation will be correlated to changes in seasonality within a geographic location as well as changes in geographic distribution.

Developed by: Janice Krumm, Elissa Sorojrsisom, & Alex Trillo

Lythrum salicaria, purple loosestrife. Image by liz west, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Exploring the effects of invasion on plant morphology

Invasive plant species displace native species, lowering the biodiversity of their invaded range and causing changes to environmental conditions, such as the increase in fire spread due to invasive grasses. This CURE explores whether morphological traits of an invasive species differ in the species’ invaded range compared to its native range. Students will use digital herbaria to collect morphological data on invasive plant species and compare those data between native and invasive ranges to address questions such as: How does morphology vary in an invasive species between its introduced and original ranges? How do attributes of the novel environment (e.g., climate, salinity) influence the morphology of the invasive species? How has morphology changed over time?

Developed by: Caroline DeVan, Alex Krohn, Liz Shea, & Lizz Waring

Cytisus scoparius, the Scotch broom. Image by armennano from Pixabay

A CURE for invasions: Mobilizing digitized natural history collections to track invasive species

Invasive species are organisms that cause environmental or economic damage outside of their naturally occurring ranges. Identifying the mechanisms that influence the dispersal of invasive species is key to preventing and controlling their spread. In this CURE, students will select a pair of species that play similar ecological roles and develop hypotheses about the mechanisms that affect the ability of their two species to disperse. They will test their hypotheses using digital natural history collections data by analyzing the distribution changes over time for both species.

Developed by: Katie Burnette, Michael Caldwell, Ryan Kerney, Joshua Mays, Fran Weaver, & Timothy Whitfeld

Spotted lantern fly

Lycorma delicatula, the spotted lantern fly. Image by WaltheryCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Exploring species distribution changes and their drivers using digital natural history data

This CURE examines species distributions and the human impacts that may influence them. Species are usually found within geographic ranges that are determined by their tolerance to physical stressors, such as temperature and moisture, and interactions with other species, such as competitors and predators. Climate change, introduced exotic species, fragmentation of urban landscapes, and other human impacts can exacerbate unfavorable conditions and accelerate shifts in species distributions. Students involved in this CURE will compare present species distributions, using resources such as iNaturalist or their own field observations, with historical distributions using digitized natural history collections data.

Developed by: Liz Alter, John Carroll, Tanya Dewey, & Tiffany Doan

Created by Carly N. Jordan Last Modified Fri July 23, 2021 1:09 pm by Carly N. Jordan


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